Augustana College will add varsity esports to its sports lineup. Launching in the fall of 2022, esports is the 29th varsity sport and the first all-gender varsity athletic team at Augustana.
“Our club program has thrived for the last four years,” said Dr. Wes Brooks, dean of students. “We knew expanding that program and taking it to the next level would support the goals of the athletic program and co-curricular offerings at Augustana.”
Pew Research Center suggests that 72% of high school students play video games. High School Esports League is the largest and longest-operating competitive gaming organization serving high school students and educators, with 2,100+ partnered schools across the United States and Canada, with more than 60,000 students.
The Augustana team will fill the varsity roster for select games: Overwatch, League of Legends, Rocket League, Madden, NBA2K, FIFA, and Sim Racing.
Joe Loomis, former head coach of esports at Carroll University, will lead Augustana’s program.
“Augustana Esports will create a value-driven, student-centered community dedicated to enriching student life on campus while creating a holistic approach to gaming culture and esports competition,” Coach Loomis said.
Coach Loomis serves on the advisory council for eClusion, a non-profit organization dedicated to inclusion and accessibility in gaming, and serves as a consultant and event organizer for the MKE Esports Alliance.
“Augustana has created a strong foundation of support for the esports program,” Coach Loomis said.
He said that from his first day on campus, he has been given the resources to create an program that will foster academic success for students, as well as esports success.
The Vikings will compete against esports teams from colleges and universities throughout the United States. and Canada during regular season and title championships.
Along with recruiting, training and broadcasting for Augustana esports, Coach Loomis will oversee Augustana’s new esports center and recreational leagues. He is a member of the National Association of Esports Coaches and Directors.
“The support and excitement from the campus community has been fantastic as we begin planning for our fall 2022 launch,” Coach Loomis said. “I am excited to lead Augie Esports into its next phase as we build both competitive and recreational esports opportunities and open a dedicated gaming facility.”